Virus death toll in China rises to 56 with about 2,000 cases

BEIJING (AP) — The death toll from the new virus in China has risen to 56 with 1,975 total cases reported.

The figures reported Sunday morning cover the previous 24 hours and mark an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases.

The government also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan. Small numbers of cases have been found in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia. Canada also says it has discovered one case.

China’s leader on Saturday called the accelerating spread of a new virus a grave situation, as cities from the outbreak’s epicenter in central China to Hong Kong scrambled to contain the illness.

President Xi Jinping’s remarks, reported by state broadcaster CCTV, came at a meeting of Communist Party leaders convened on Lunar New Year — the country’s biggest holiday whose celebrations have been muted — and underlined the government’s urgent, expanding efforts to control the outbreak.

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